SciNews – Nov 14, 2014

This regular feature of STAOblog brings you a sampling of the latest science news that would be of particular interest to your students.  Incorporate these stories into your lesson.  Or, use them as a “cool attention-grabber” at the start of class.  Above all, enjoy the discussion and get your kids excited about science! “SciNews” is published every Monday and Thursday.

Share your favourite SciNews “gems” by emailing them to

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#STAO2014 TweetUp Nov 13 &14

twitter@bpcaverhill, @albertfong,

@carolynhlgt, @kristianlevey,

@megomam, @dmelegos,

@MahfuzaLRahman, @staopres,

@htheijsmeijer, @staoapso, @staoconference

invite you to a TweetUp on Thursday and Friday from 3:00 to 3:30 pm in the Exhibit Hall foyer.

This is an opportunity for STAO twitter users and followers to meet in person, to network, and to have fun.  Let’s convert our 140-character conversations to lengthy exchanges and continued support throughout the school year.

If you’re not using twitter as part of your professional learning network, well you should be!!!  Join the TweetUp and you can see what it’s all about.

Why We Are Made of “Star Stuff” – Reactions

As Carl Sagan famously said, “We are made of star stuff.” Whoa. It’s a mind-boggling thought, but what exactly did he mean? Check out the video to find out…

Thanks to the American Association of Chemistry Teachers for making this video available.

Screening for Safer Chemicals using HMIS


elephant toothpaste

Elephant Toothpaste is a popular demonstration to introduce the concept of decomposition reactions.  The chemical reaction involved is the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into oxygen gas and water.  The reaction is very slow at room temperature.  Consequently, it requires a catalyst.  Manganese dioxide is commonly used to catalyse the reaction.  However, bakers yeast works just as well, is easier to clean-up and is non-toxic. The key ingredient for this demo is hydrogen peroxide which is readily available in 6% and 30% solutions.  How can you tell whether or not these chemicals are safe to use? Fortunately, most chemicals used in schools come with a HMIS hazard rating. Continue reading

Seven Layer Density Column

density column spanglerBy Steve Spangler

Stack seven different liquids in seven different layers. Anyone can stack blocks, boxes, or books, but only those with a steady hand and a little understanding of chemistry can stack liquids. What if you could stack seven different liquids in seven different layers? Think of it as a science burrito! Continue reading